Mielke: Mother’s Day origins involved simple gift of time

Column by Black Press reporter Treena Mielke

As all of us mothers and grandmothers are well aware of, Mother’s Day is the next red letter day on the calendar.

Before we know it, there will be a huge crowd hovering over the Hallmark card selection, searching for that perfect card that manages, in a few heartfelt words, to say it all.

I have yet to find such a card, but, perhaps it is another one of those things in life, that never quite reaches perfection, but comes very close. Close enough!

Okay, I admit it.

I am one of those moms and grandmas who very much loves all the perks that go along with Mother’s Day.

In fact, I wait for them.

I love the Hallmark cards with the sappy messages, and even more so, I love the crayoned labours of love made with sticky little fingers.

I love the phone calls, the flowers and every other little bit of extra attention that I am fortunate enough to have bestowed on me.

Over the years I never thought much about how Mother’s Day actually came to be. In fact, I really didn’t care.

I simply accepted the fact that it was a day about me. And I was good with that.

Some years, I must admit, it was more about me than other years. It didn’t matter. At the end of the day in all the years since I became a mom, I always felt pretty much like a winner, even if I did end up doing mom tasks like laundry and dishes and someone’s homework.

It was all good.

But, now that I am older and slightly more mature than in those days when I was a novice mom, a naïve and idealistic version of myself, I have learned that Mother’s Day has some rather dark origins.

Who knew that the lady who started Mother’s Day in the U.S. was unmarried and childless.

To me, that seems an odd twist of fate.

Anna Jarvis started Mother’s Day following her own mother’s death in 1905 as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

While this was a lovely gesture, Anna was soon to learn the best laid plans of mice and men do sometimes go awry. (perhaps she had never pondered Robbie Burns poem).

The plan did pretty well for the first few years after it was introduced, however, and by 1912 many states, towns and churches were on board. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Apparently Anna wasn’t into cards and flowers as much as she was the simple gift of time. Her idea of celebrating Mother’s Day was to wear a white carnation, go and visit your mom and go to church.

But, alas, by this time florists, card companies and retail outlets had seen the reflection of dollar signs in their eyes and a whole new concept of Mother’s Day was born.

This did not please Anna one little bit.

She fought back, launching lawsuits against those who used the name Mother’s Day for profit.

By the time she died she had disowned the holiday and even lobbied against the government to have it removed as a national holiday.

As I read this sad tale of woe, I have to think that Anna Jarvis truly did have the right idea.

Visit mom. Go to church. Wear a white carnation.

Those ideals are truly honourable.

But, all the same, I’m grateful for my kids who are among the crowd who hover over the Hallmark greeting cards trying to find the perfect one. And I’m certainly happy to be the recipient of flowers, or candy or any other store bought gift that happens to come my way on Mother’s Day simply because I’m lucky enough to be someone’s mom.

A very long time ago on a deep and dark November morning, I gazed into the innocent blue eyes of my first born child.

I didn’t know it then, but I had only just begun a very long journey that would last a lifetime.

I was a mom.

Looking back, I have to say being a mom was one of the very best choices I have ever made. And, now I’m a grandma.

For sure, it’s as good as it gets. And I do admire that brave lady who took it upon herself to create a special day in honour of her own mom. It was a true act of compassion and, today, that concept of Mother’s Day still holds true.

It just looks a little different!

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